PositiveThe Guardian (UK)\"
Some of the current affairs land with a clunk...and the TV or radio are forever giving plot-relevant updates. But Gilligan makes her characters believable and sympathetic, and by setting the careful, intensely personal killing by the butchers against the profit-driven industrial farming that brought BSE into the food chain, she creates a pungent contrast that powers her novel. There’s much to relish in her language, too ... There’s a rich fascination with food and nature, as well as the threat of violence. The Troubles exist at a distance, and it’s refreshing to read a book about love and conflict in Ulster that doesn’t feature paramilitaries ... There are plenty of threads running through the novel, and they aren’t all convincingly resolved. But this strange and poignant book grips throughout, offering a vivid portrait of one of Ireland’s less heralded corners.\
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... forcefully told and thoroughly affecting...the ambitious Monsters uses time lapses to great effect ... It feels a well trodden set-up, part Captain America, part Frankenstein’s monster ... A lesser writer might crank up the cliches another notch, and focus on the violence and drama of a super-soldier on the loose in 60s America. Windsor-Smith does give us shootouts, stakeouts and chases, but Monsters is more interested in turning back the clock. It’s a book about how we got here; a story about a lost boy, his put-upon mother and his brutal, traumatised father, about fraught dinners and PTSD, and about how it takes a monster to make one. And its telling is often brilliant ... Monsters hums with suppressed violence and regret, and Windsor-Smith renders both with real power. His command of pose and gesture...brings his cast to life. Some images stay with you ... a family drama of kindness, cruelty and redemption takes centre stage, offering the chance for a broken man to shed his skin, and begin again.
Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, tr. Iona MacIntyre and Fiona Macintosh
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Sentences bound on from one page to another, seeming almost as long as the vignette-like chapters, in a thrilling and mystical miniature epic. This story, drunk on words and visions, is an elegy to the land and its lost cultures.
PositiveThe Guardian... the first English translation of a piece of engaging pulp fiction, first published in 1968 in Japanese Playboy, by one of the country’s literary greats ... It may be only a footnote in his career, but this surreal tale offers a trenchant critique of a city that has misplaced its soul.
RaveThe Guardian[Seth] calls it \'the biggest book I will ever make\'. This collected edition pulls it all together for the first time. It is a deeply realised labour of love ... Clyde Fans is packed with affectionate detail: models of fans, contemporary adverts, wonderfully realised street scenes and re-creations of the hokey 20s postcards that Simon collects ... The result is a sad symphony in blue and grey, drawn in a style that harks back to postwar newspaper strips. Thick lines form expressive faces and art deco facades, and panels linger on shadows, empty streets and daily rituals, lending the graphic novel a gentle but compelling rhythm ... This is a book about nostalgia and regret, but it finds magic in all manner of places ... This artful and heartfelt book balances rosiness and realism, making precious fiction from the stuff of ordinary lives.
William Melvin Kelley
RaveThe GuardianKelley boldly tells his story from the perspective of the white residents, who spin stories of Confederate generals and formidable slaves, speak of their dreams and their youth and try to rationalize this modern exodus [of blacks from the South]. This fierce and brilliant novel is written with sympathy as well as sorrow. It’s a myth packed with real-world resonance, as hope and decency wither in a community that’s as woke as a corpse.
Luke Jones and Anna Mill
PositiveThe GuardianSquare Eyes comes at you in a disorienting rush. Tight, square, grey panels quickly give way to code-laden flow charts and images ... Mill’s artwork does a wonderful job of capturing the chaos, invention and decay of Fin’s nameless city ... There are regular shifts of perspective: we look through windows, into nooks and cupboards and past skyscrapers to a sky dotted with floating detritus as Fin struggles to get back online and remember what happened before her collapse. In some cases images sit on top of each other, and you’re forced to make sense of the overlaid scenes, while message updates burst forth like flowers from Fin’s hands. In a world where walls may not be literal, birds flock across panels and characters slip from sight to leave you staring at a blank page ... The plot is fairly thin and the baddies fail to capture the imagination, while other characters—including the enigmatic George and an enraged protester—are introduced but not really developed. But the joy of Square Eyes comes from its vision rather than its action or cast, and there is plenty of neat observation ... This immersive, inventive graphic novel offers its own brand of escapism, but anger bubbles beneath its beautifully rendered surface.
Mircea Eliade trans. Christopher Bartholomew
MixedThe Guardian\"[Eliade] writes beautifully about nature and the buzz of student gatherings, although his lengthy, staged conversations with friends about faith and meaning grow wearing ... Eliade has been criticised for his links to the far-right Iron Guard, but two boorish antisemites get short shrift here. More troubling is the self-important sexism, as he castigates the “mediocrity of sentimental girls”, and treats the two women in his life as objects to be moulded or abandoned ... Eliade may be describing the life of a student in a Romanian lycée of almost a century ago, but anyone who has ever been at school, full of ideals but also too shy to speak to the opposite sex, or incapable of revising for an exam until the very last minute, will relate to this. As will anyone who has ever committed their private thoughts to paper, as the true record of their soul and a rebuke to posterity.
RaveThe GuardianTan\'s excellent debut follows loners and outcasts, and contains several metaphorical car crashes, one fake one and one actual, brutal, skid off the road. Born in Indonesia, Tan has lived in Hong Kong and the US and is now based in the UK. These 11 stories range over those territories, focusing both on obvious drama (murder, crucifixion, wild drug use) and the seemingly less consequential (a conversation between a rich child and her maid, an argument between two Iron Maiden-loving teenagers) ... There\'s plenty of darkness and a sprinkling of magic, and these strange, flinty, cigarette-stained narratives speed by, offering lots of surface tension and compelling deeper passions.
PositiveThe GuardianThis unusual and affecting work builds the story of an undocumented migrant from the perspectives of those whose paths he crosses. Ruillier worked with a friend from the charity Réseau Éducation Sans Frontières to collect accounts from migrants, police officers and the wider public, and sets the resulting tales in a world peopled by animals. That gives his tale a surreal, universal twist, though he tethers it to France by interspersing the action with bleak quotes from Nicolas Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen.
RaveThe GuardianShit is Real follows a young woman’s response to a breakup and mixes lonely lunches, wild parties and hallucinations. After losing her job and being dumped by her boyfriend, Selma is putting up a picture in her new flat when the drill slips, opening a yawning crack into her neighbour’s vacant apartment. It starts slowly – a glass of water here, a washing-machine load there – but before long Selma has moved in ... For all its darkness, there’s real energy and ingenuity: this is a wise and funny journey through loneliness and confusion.